Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Organizing Essentials: Controlling the Influx of STUFF

It happens, life that is.  We make an effort to find a place for everything and maintain order, but sometimes we suffer a loss with the constant battle with stuff coming through our doors.  Here are some strategies that can reverse the outcome and leave our organization in tact!

Consider a minimalist mindset
We can begin by eliminating the unnecessary and 'just-in-case' so that we are left with only things that we use and bring absolute joy to our lives.  If we continuously edit and are mindful of what comes into our homes, the clutter no longer becomes a problem.

No more aimless shopping
Be purposeful with spending and try not to shop just for the sake of shopping.  Unsubscribe from retail store emails and catalogs.  Take time away from the numerous screens disguised as sneaky sirens calling us to buy more stuff to satisfy an imagined void.  (Those marketing agencies are great at their jobs!)  Cultivate the ability to distinguish needs from wants and essentials from luxuries.

Implement (and stick with) a one in/one out policy
To keep balance in your space and life, remove an item every time you bring a new one home.  This strategy works well with scheduling too - when we realize our time is precious, we get better at filling it with things that matter to us.  When we say 'yes' to something, we ultimately say 'no' to something else.

Leave (some) room to grow
There are times when expansion is necessary - think new child, new business, new hobby - so manage the corresponding space accordingly.  However, these types of systems are tricky to maintain without generating more clutter, so keep close tabs on what finds its way into those empty storage areas.  Be intentional with how those spaces are used.

Invest in multi-taskers
Declutter by replacing single task items with those that can perform many tasks.  This principle is key for kitchens and closets, especially.  Do not get suckered into buying single-use tools in the name of convenience unless it will be heavily used.  For example, a coffee maker can be a good single tasker, but not an avocado slicer - just get a good knife and expand your knife skills!  Buy the best quality little black dress (or suit) possible and use it to generate many outfits instead of buying an outfit per event.  Get those creative juices flowing!

Request experiences for gifts
Ask for a museum membership, theater tickets, spa treatments, charity donations, and other adventures in lieu of physical items.  These gifts reward us with new things to explore and enjoy without the need to find places to store more stuff.

Create a system for paperwork
Paper begets paper - we've seen evidence of this on our kitchen counters with ever-growing piles of mail, school documents and projects, magazines, etc.  It is absolutely necessary to set up a system to minimize the chaos and maintain sanity.  Convert to paperless statements, create electronic files and databases, and opt-out of catalog mailings and pre-screened offers to keep as much paper out as possible.

I hope at least one of these strategies can help you deal with the influx of stuff.  Granted, these ideas are all easier said than done, especially when more than one person is involved. Keep in mind it takes time to create and keep good habits, but the return on investment definitely outweighs the sacrifice!

Here's to staying organized!

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